Thursday, 15 August 2013


One of the early profiles I was matched with I quickly discovered that he was looking for:

"a feminine woman who will allow me to be a male around her and who will become feminine when we are together a woman that I could take care of for the rest of her life protect, nurture defend encourage and share my love with. I have so much love to give and need someone that will be willing to receive it."

So being that I had a pretty good idea of what was being requested but unsure I wasn't reading my personal bias into it, I turned to my lovely friends on Facebook and asked for a translation on this Christianese and received everything from the purely humorous to the serious and everything in between such as:

Secret desire for evangelical Christian dominatrix, of course - best friend

The answer to this question and any other about what they mean or are looking for is pretty simple. BJs. - former almost boyfriend (and a similar response from my father)

Allow me to translate. What this means is I read some book (I can probably name the book but I'm not going to because it doesn't deserve it) a long time ago that told me that women wanted traditional men to defend them and make all their decisions for them and so if I write a bunch of crap like this in my **** profile it will make women want me and find me a nice submissive wife who will let me be what I think a man is. In other words not the guy for you. - former university classmate and presently a pastor

When I spun the question around a few weeks later after finding that 98% of the profile matches were soliciting the same dynamic, I asked "it seems every **** profile cites the need for a feminine woman to make them feel like a man, this puzzles me. Have you ever turned to man to make you feel like a woman? Or is it a uniquely Christian male issue?"

The responses were very similar to each other so I picked to of the dozen or so married women who responded:

but 'woman' is just a label, and 'feminine' is a meaningless societal construction as far as I'm concerned. I'm a woman on my own terms, but more than that, I'm a person. My man makes me feel loved and valuable, and the fact that I'm a woman is hardly even relevant. If a guy doesn't feel like a real man without a woman that acts 'feminine', then that's his problem he needs to solve on his own.

 I don't think about feeling "like a woman" much at all, so I don't expect someone else to evoke such feelings! What's interesting to me is what they mean by "a woman who makes me feel like a man" - code for what exactly? And what could make them feel not like a man? I have a hard time picturing this to be a good thing.

In that moment I was so thankful that the Facebook hive-mind had come together and validated the feelings I had about this whole issue of being feminine so that I can exist only as a binary marker for my future spouse to mark himself against. Again the language of evangelical gender relations was not of woman as a whole but rather as only defined in relation, as though it doesn't exist without man. But there is the rub, at its extreme this dynamic also suggests that men cease to exist unless interacting with women. And all these roles and interactions do not even consider that gender is a construct and that cis men and women (and that does not even include trans men and women - not that they're not important to this discussion but rather it is a topic for another time and space) can abide on a spectrum. I might be able to bake a pie and scrub a floor but I also can also hang cabinets, use power tools and assemble furniture but none of those abilities/activities are a result of my uterus/sex. These are not intrinsic to what it means to be a woman or being feminine. 

And yet...

The message continues. 

We continue to tell women that they are only feminine if they are soft spoken and meek, not too educated and super excited by the prospect of having a huge family (see:Dugger's/quiver-full communities) and we tell men, just like these two cases that they are only men if they conquer (do but don't Google Douglas Wilson and conquer if you want to know details) or are "wild at heart" (thanks Eldridges). We eliminate all the shades of grey - all the beautiful complexity that is being human, wherever you place yourself on the gender spectrum and whoever you love. 

Lastly while I would love to offer a musical reference at this moment it seems in digging around the musical interwebs that there has been a lot of discussion for the idea of a woman needing a "manly" man - yes I'm looking at you Shania, Aretha and well actually the whole of music it seems. But I was able to find this song which condenses in some way the expectation of women in the Evangelical church - Stand still and look pretty


  1. Arg...I am almost ashamed to be associated with this subset of the male gender. I say subset because they do not represent all men - not even all evangelical Christian men, as your pastor friend, father, and follower (i.e., me) can attest to.

    Indeed, gender is a social construct. Given that the men who have dominated our patriarchal social landscape are fundamentally flawed, it is not surprising to me that men - myself included - still struggle with fully recognizing our female equals for their inherently humanizing human personhood. Please forgive me ladies.

  2. Thanks for your comment - I want to be clear while I am bemoaning the actions of some men, the purpose is really not to shame them or men in general, but rather to make us all realize that these beliefs have had real staying power and have and continue to do a lot of damage. I just happen to be trying to find that space between horror and laughter.

    I am concerned about the staying power of these thoughts as it seems more men are being influenced by charismatic, even cultish leadership, believing that there is a correlation between your masculinity (represented through their MMA Jesus motif) and your success, in life, in marriage and especially in the bedroom, with all the "dialogue" in black and white. Maybe I've watched too much Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix recently but I do feel like I'm Harry having his interaction with Padfoot/Sirius Black - it does feel like it did before - the negative influence that ran through evangelicalism in the 80's is on the move again.

    So the response - we need allies. It pains me, but as I have expressed elsewhere (Facebook) during the Wendy Davis, TX filibuster, that the biggest thing the church needs is male feminists. You are not so easily pushed aside as being irrational or overly emotional. We need the men to bring voice to all the fight we've been fighting.